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Raising awareness of arthritis in Scotland

Published on 07 December 2017

Left to right: Tracey Loftis, Dr Mohini Gray, Maureen McAllister, Rachael Hamilton MSP, Jeremy Balfour MSP, Kathryn Martin, Angela Donaldson-BruceOn Tuesday 5th December, Arthritis Research UK held our first Scottish parliamentary reception in Holyrood as a newly merged charity to highlight the prevalence and impact of arthritis in Scotland. Kindly sponsored by Rona MacKay MSP, the event was attended by 8 of Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs) who came to find out about how arthritis can affect people with musculoskeletal conditions.

MSPs spoke to people living with arthritis, tried our gloves which simulate the mobility restrictions arthritis can cause, as well as received exclusive data on how many people in their local area may have certain forms of arthritis.

Campaigner and volunteer, Charlotte Bamford, who has lived with arthritis from a young age, spoke at the event to tell MSPs about the realities of living withCharlotte Bamford arthritis. She told us, “I had the opportunity to speak at the Holyrood reception to share my experience of arthritis with Members of the Scottish Parliament. Many people don’t realise that arthritis affects young people too, and that’s why it’s so important to raise awareness. Since my diagnosis 5 years ago, I’ve coped with constant pain, feelings of isolation and uncertainty, and at times, depression.

“However, I have a support network through Arthritis Care’s Young People and Families Service, where I’ve met other young people with similar conditions and have learnt more about my condition and how to manage it. It is important that the politicians are aware and support the work of the charity, as people living with arthritis would not receive support that is vital to manage their condition.”

Tracey Loftis, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, said, “Nearly 700,000 people over the age of 45 in Scotland are living with osteoarthritis, and around 37,000 people have rheumatoid arthritis. We know that these conditions can have a huge impact on a person’s personal wellbeing, family life, and working life.

“It was fantastic to see so many MSPs at our first event in Holyrood. We need politicians to ensure that musculoskeletal conditions are a priority in the ambitious plans that the Scottish Government are working on in public health and employability for disabled people. We hope that MSPs will give a voice to people with arthritis in Holyrood, and we look forward to continuing our work with MSPs to ensure that the needs of people with arthritis are championed.”

In the lead up to the event, many Scottish campaigners emailed their MSPs asking them to attend the reception. If you’d like to take part in this kind of activity, you can join our campaigner network quickly and easily. You can find out more about our campaigns on our website.

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Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.